COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A first-of-its-kind working group in Ohio had its first meeting Monday afternoon to evaluate school bus safety.
“Whatever their recommendations are, we have to take those seriously,” Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said.
DeWine created the ‘school bus safety working group’ in response to a fatal bus crash in Clark County last month that resulted in an 11-year-old boy being killed. The group will examine topics from school bus regulations, crash risk factors to the possibility of seatbelts on buses, and submit recommendations by the end of the year.
“Every single year buses are being bought in the state of Ohio,” DeWine said. “So, this working group could take the attitude of ‘let’s do this and on all new school buses’ or they could say ‘every bus in the state needs to fit certain requirements.’”
Monday was the first of at least five meetings. The meeting started with a tour of a school bus, where panel members all learned about the 182 points of inspection a school bus must pass before hitting the road.
Members in the group range from a parent to a school bus driver, to the Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Andy Wilson, who is serving as the chair. And Wilson said since 2018, there have been 6,089 school bus crashes throughout Ohio.
“That’s less than 1% of crashes that we have here in Ohio and among those crashes, 7 involved fatalities,” Wilson said. “But those fatalities were the person who hit the bus.”
Wilson said the accident in Clark County last month was the first school bus crash that was fatal for a student since 2010.
“This is clear evidence that our school buses are really the safest mode of transportation we have here in Ohio,” Wilson said.
All meetings will be public, and DeWine encourages parents to tune in. The group will welcome different experts for testimony and presentations.